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Interview with Patty Templeton

Today I have something different for you: an interview with Patty Templeton, the author of the darkly humorous historical fantasy There Is No Lovely End.

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Spanning the second half of the nineteenth century, There Is No Lovely End features outlaws and patent medicine salesmen, mediums and besotted journalists, and not a few ghosts. It also features Sarah Winchester, the real-life wife of the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

Sarah Winchester (Source)

I gather that Sarah Winchester’s story is the nugget that started the book. How did the other characters and their stories join in?

When I decided to fall into There Is No Lovely End . . . I thought it was going to be the fictionalized history of Sarah Winchester – her and her only. Everyone else emerged slowly, over the years, over the drafts. The book became as much Nathan Garlan’s story as it was Sarah’s. Nathan being the medium who ultimately nudged Sarah to move from Connecticut to California . . . I think I felt constricted in earlier drafts. I felt like I had to “stick to history.” Sarah Winchester was a very real person and, when I was a younger writer, I was unsure how much of someone’s life I could or wanted to fictionalize. When I veered into Nathan Garlan’s story ... I felt freedom. It enabled me to outline and amplify the supernatural elements contained within Sarah’s world.

When you were writing, whose skin was it hardest to get into? Whose was easiest?

Honestly, the toughest character to write was Sarah Winchester. I wanted her to be fallible and a realistic woman . . . and the first draft or two, she kept getting trounced on by the tragedies of life. Everything happened to her all the time and she never effected change in her own story. Things were done to her, but never by her. I am pleased with how she came out, but it was a hard road getting there.

Maybe my lesson in all of this is that historical fiction is gd hard. I revise that. I love writing historical fiction. I’m usually crap for writing contemporary fiction. But! Writing of real people . . . I’m not sure I’ll do it again and, if I did, I might be tempted to go with an out-and-out biography.

The most ridiculous and fun person to write was Graham Johnson – the ghost of a dead, lusty newspaper man. He’s a side character who starts as a creeper and becomes, I think, somewhat endearing. He was as likely to spout about poetry as sexual deviance – which, apparently, I write rather easily.

What elements of the book were most fun to research? What’s the strangest thing you learned while researching?

I love love LOVE research. I can start a day with good intentions and suddenly it’s 5 p.m., I’ve written nothing, but I know every Victorian slang term for blowjob ever. Oops, day gone.

I absolutely adored researching for the character the Reverend Doctor Enton Blake. He’s a medicine wagon physician as willing to help the living as spirits. Through him, I was able to indulge my interests in Victorian advertising, jug bands, and showy fashion.

Memphis Jug Band (Source)

The oddity of writing is that you become a temporary expert. While I was writing, I knew an abundance about Victorian architecture, the Winchester Rifle Company, Boston of 1884, spiritualist publications of the late 1800s…and now I only have vague recollections.

I’m not sure about strange. . . but one of the most ridiculous, sometimes groan-inducing topics I researched was Victorian humor and Civil War jokes. It gave me gems like:

  • A man calls over his waiter and says, “See here, there’s a button in my salad.” Waiter says, “That’s all right, sir, it’s part of the dressing.”
  • When are roads like corpses? When they are men-ded.

The story’s called There Is No Lovely End, and it’s definitely true that some of the major characters don’t get a lovely end. Without being spoilery, can you talk about this as a storytelling choice?

The books I like best are the ones that leave me wanting . . . and maybe leave the characters wanting or wondering, too. Mega Little Women spoiler ahead: I absolutely wanted Jo to get together with Laurie . . . for a while, you think that this is a possibility, that maybe this is what Jo wants . . . and then SPLAT and VROOM. Your heart is dropped in a blender and liquefied because Jo ends up with her prof. It is a lovely end, just not the end I would have chosen as a reader, but after thinking on it and debating with friends, I feel like it satisfies me.

I think I may be rambling. What I’m saying is . . . life ain’t fair and neither is fiction. I knew I wanted hope for my characters. I knew I wanted to leave the reader with a feeling of satisfaction, but that didn’t mean that everyone had to have a tidy happiness to close their story.

Art for There Is No Lovely End, by Matthew Ryan Sharp (Source)
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You decided to self-publish There Is No Lovely End. Can you talk about that decision and how the journey has been so far?

Oi and geez. It has been a hard path. For folks that think that self-publishing is their whiz-bang-super-quick solution to getting published and making money, nope, try again. I direct you to Chuck Wendig’s “25 Steps to Becoming a Self-Published Author.” I also have a series over at Black Gate called “Self-Publishing Checklist: The Random No One Tells You.” It’s definitely not a cakewalk.

For me . . . I wanted to self-publish because I knew I needed to move on. It is my first novel. I have worked on it off-and-on for almost a decade, and I knew I didn’t want to do the Great Agent Quest, have that agent do the Great Publisher Search, then have the publisher tell me it would take probably another year to publish. This decision was about how much time I had to spend on my writing and where I wanted to spend it for the next year+ of my life.

The realities of self-publishing are harsh. You have to work double-hard for people to take you seriously and you have to choose not to give a shit when they don’t. You have to become an expert in everything from book design to consignment contracts. Would I do it again? Absolutely, but after I finish my next large project I do want to seek out an agent. The more help I have for my next publication means the more time I have to work on the one after that.

Art by Matthew Ryan Sharp for There Is No Lovely End (Source)
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Any final inspiring—or terrifying—words?

To steal from Rocky Horror, don’t dream it, be it.
You are what you put the effort into being.

There Is No Lovely End is available as both a trade paperback and an ebook here, and you can see a great trailer for it here. Patty blogs at pattytempleton.com and maintains a Tumblr full of strange and wonderful images here.

Patty Templeton
Author Photo - Patty Templeton


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2014 01:05 pm (UTC)
She built a giant house with secret passages and stairways to nowhere to placate ghosts.
Sep. 17th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
That's right! This story takes another angle on her haunting.
Sep. 17th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I plan to read it at some point.
Sep. 17th, 2014 03:50 pm (UTC)
It's a good read and I was SO SUPER EXCITED when I got my copy because I could say: LOOK LOOK LOOK, this is my FRIEND'S BOOK!!!!!!!
Sep. 17th, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
It's such a gorgeous looking book, on top of everything else :-)
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
Sep. 17th, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
Bookmarking for after I read the book!
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
See you on the other side of reading!
Sep. 17th, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
The baby 'possum is a hoot!

Maybe better for Sarah W. if she had been an Annie Oakley... so seldom is inherited money beneficial (notwithstanding how we might wish to try it out), and then money with that possibly attached kharma... I don't know, I reckon Oliver would have had most of the kharma issues.

The whole issue set aside for the moment, forensic research at Little Big Horn shows that many of the Am. Indians were armed with repeaters, probably mostly Winchesters, while the 7th Cavalry were saddled with single shot rifles. Not a good situation for the Cav.
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
I agree, inherited money is bad news. Expectation of wealth? Not healthy.

There's a scene in the book where Lincoln test fires both a Winchester and a Spencer rife.

Sep. 17th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
Good interview; interesting hair-cut ... Thanks!

- mark
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
Ms. Templeton always wears very cool clothes and does very interesting things with her coiffure :-)
Sep. 18th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
Look what I found poking around on the Internet Archive:

June 30th, 2007, 16:02

If you have the chance to reproduce this, I highly recommend it:

1. Lay a one pound silver round on a wooden table (or something not metal).

2. Get a 2" x 2" x 1" neodymium magnet and drop it from a height of one inch onto the round.

3. Notice it lands excruciatingly gently upon the round, like the silver is repulsing the magnet.

4. Also notice, when you pick up the magnet, the silver is loosely sticking to the magnet. It both attracts and repulses the magnet.

Edited at 2014-09-18 12:22 am (UTC)
Sep. 25th, 2014 02:16 am (UTC)
Whoa! now I'm wishing I had a neodymium magnet.

(I somehow missed replying to this when you posted it)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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